Groovebox, a music app rigorously designed to give you a place to start

There are two stories about this app, and which one you care about depends on who you are.

If you’re still someone trying to get into music making, the important thing to know about Groovebox is, it’s never going to leave you stuck for inspiration with a blank, silent screen. The moment you add a drum or synth part, you also get a pattern going. There’s a groove there immediately, and it’s up to you to tailor it to suit your taste.

If you’re a more advanced user, you might assume the story ends there. But this app does actually have something to offer you even if you aren’t a fan of apps or presets.

So, let’s deal with these in turn. I got a chance to sit down with the folks behind the app in London just before the release, and we talked at length not just about the app but about the philosophy of such endeavors in general.

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The latest “making music easy” app

We’ve, of course, been here before. A music making app promises to help take newcomers by the hand and get them started right away, before they get frustrated or lose interest.

There are a few things that set Groovebox apart.

First, even before we get into sound, it looks really good. So yes, on paper, there are other apps – including Apple’s own mighty GarageBand – that attempt the same thing. But too often those apps become a skeumorphic muddle, not only offending aesthetic sensibilities but putting off the very newcomers they’re meant to attract.

And this sounds great, too. You get a really nice drum machine (Drumbox), bass synth (Retrobass), and pad/lead synthesizer (Poly-8).

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The key thing is, you never have to start from scratch with these instruments. Preset sounds and patterns instantly get you going, choosing a genre. (Those genres are direct and straightforward, in contrast to Apple’s sometimes baffling automatic “player” personas.) Now, that might be a little boring, but from there you can shuffle to a new preset, adjust melodies and rhythms, or completely change things up by drawing in new ideas. You can limit to tempo, key, and scale so things stay harmonious.

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There are hundreds of presets in there to start, and the developers promise more. And you’re always free to tweak sounds and content, until in the end you might have something totally original – but without having to begin with nothing.

Now, that brings us to the more advanced audience.

Advanced features

Okay, you’re not a beginner. So, you’ll want to know that Groovebox is the latest app from Novation. That company has made a startup “within” the company. They’ve got a different office – in chic central London, rather than sleepy High Wycombe, where Focusrite and Novation live. And there’s a small team, allowing them to focus more like independent developers do. That team has changed names – from BLOCS to AMPIFY (continuing their trend of leaving out letters of short words). But the important thing here is that this team benefits from Novation’s experience level while remaining independent enough to be more agile.

I have some confidence in saying that because the developers have mercifully given us room to grow.

Everything is editable. There’s a full piano roll-style editor, so you’re never stuck with presets. Everything is tweakable, as far as the synths. There’s an 8-track mixer (more limited in the iPhone version).

And the reason I’m lavishing space on this app is, they’ve ticked all the other boxes – the stuff often left out of beginner apps.

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Ableton Link for jamming and synchronization
Audiobus
Inter-App Audio
Full scale support for keys / major and minor modes
Ableton Live project export (fabulous)
iPad Pro screen real estate optimization
Works with Bluetooth speakers (that’s no small task, in fact, because of latency management!)
Rename, duplicate, delete projects

Novation also tell CDM that they’re working on other stuff you want – Swing, Chromatic support, MIDI input, and Sections. More instruments are coming, too.

The key here is scalability, and pricing is part of that.

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On the design side, the app was created first for iPhone, so it feels native and not claustrophobic in the palmtop version. But then it was expanded, so it also fills up space on iPads up to Pro.

You get the app itself free. Then you can unlock expanded instruments (US$4.99) if you want more tweakability, or add soundpacks for a dollar or two. That’s not only a business and growth model, but also a way to serve two audiences.

Of course, this is interesting because there isn’t really a line between those two audiences. What if you’re totally new to music? You grab the app, and start working. But you’ve also just decided to buy an Ableton controller – and you need a simple way of syncing, so Ableton Link, which works over a wireless network, is the easiest solution.

In fact, my general experience is relative beginners have the least patience with complexities and workarounds – and they’re even more frustrated if an app refuses to grow with them.

My only real complaint here is, there isn’t a way to get a blank preset. These are three really lovely instruments (more on that in a moment), and I want to just make my own patterns for them – without the added step of deleting what’s there.

Plus, those presets really are just presets. I’d love that ‘random’ button to just slightlyrandomize patterns, or to have generative controls. That’s something you get from smart hardware (like the random functions on Roland’s recent 303 and 808/909 remakes). It’s also in the excellent Skram app by Liine, which is a lot smarter about applying transposition and rhythmic variation. I wish Skram’s music theory smarts were combined with Novation’s cleaner UI.

Behind the scenes

There’s one other bit of this, though, worth watching. Novation have tapped Jerome Noel, one of the talents at Ohm Force, who worked on the awesome Quad Frohmage, Ohmicide and collaborative DAW Ohm Studio, before joining Novation. (He also worked on the hit Launchpad app.)

They’ve also worked really hard on those sounds (maybe a counter-argument to why they’ve gone presets rather than something generative.) “Discovering sounds and ideas is an important part of our ethos,” Ampify tells CDM. “We knew we needed human involvement with the sounds and patterns we supplied. As such, we have a content team lead by Tom Smeeton, and they work with many artists and sound designers to create our synth presets, patterns and audio loops.”

Exclusive to CDM, we’ve also gotten a glimpse at their design process. Here are some early takes, from the past couple of years of development (yes, that’s years). This really says to me why I’d watch this app: these early mock-ups look more like what other developers are typically shipping. That iteration could be richly rewarded, and it’s a testament to Novation’s ability to reach a larger audience in the cut-throat, low-revenue world of mobile apps.

Stay tuned.

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All in all, this is one to watch. I’m not quite ready to work with it yet, but I’d definitely add it in with some of those coming features.

Download: https://itunes.apple.com/app/groovebox-beats-synths-music-studio/id1242847278?ls=1&mt=8
Tutorial Videos: http://www.ampifymusic.com/blog/

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Katy Perry Joins Calvin Harris, Pharrell & Big Sean On “Feels”


Calvin Harris' Album Sampler

Calvin Harris teases ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1’ with a star-studded album sampler.

Calvin Harris rolls out the latest single from Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 tonight (June 15) and it’s another star-studded affair. “Feels,” a deft blend of dancehall, hip-hop and and electronica, features Pharrell Williams, Big Sean and, somewhat amusingly given the identity of DJ’s ex-girlfriend and recent events, Katy Perry. Coincidental shade aside (I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt), the track is a silky smooth banger about being open to a serious connection.

“Now nothing ever last forever no, one minute you’re here and the next you’re gone,” Pharrell begins the song over reggae-tinged beat. “So I respect you, wanna take it slow.” Katy then takes over for the chorus. “Don’t be afraid to catch feels,” she coos sexily. “Ride drop top and chase thrills, I know you ain’t afraid about this.” Big Sean then closes out the song with a fiery verse. Like “Heatstroke” before it, “Feels” doesn’t scream radio single. It is a glorious mood-setter, however. Listen below.

Do you love the song? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!

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Elvana Turns To David Guetta & Poo Bear For “Forever Is Over”


Selena Gomez's Wacky "Bad Liar" Video

Selena Gomez plays multiple roles in her delightfully offbeat “Bad Liar” video.

Albania pop queen Elvana Gjata brings out the big guns for her first English-language single. “Forever Is Over” was written by Poo Bear (Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?” and “Company,” among other Purpose cuts) and produced by David Guetta. In other words, the exact same team that brought you “2U.” It’s no surprise then, that the diva’s moody banger sounds on-trend and expertly executed. “At the end of the story will you be ready to start part two?” she muses over guitar. “Look back on our journey to forget everything we’ve been through.”

That takes us to the soaring, synth-filled chorus and inevitable drop. “Elvana is undeniably one of the most talented and skilled artist that I’ve ever worked with in my career,” Poo Bear raves of their collaboration. “Her vocal control, soul and spirit combined make a voice that resonates through all frequencies.” It will be interesting to see if Elvana can make waves internationally. Fellow Albanian Era Istrefi pulled it off with “BonBon” and there’s no reason it can’t happen again. Watch the glamorous, big budget video up top.

Do you love the song? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!

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Don’t miss Chagall’s mesmerizing live glove performances, new video

For up and coming cyber-pop talent, look no further than Chagall, the Amsterdam-born London-based cyborg diva.

Chagall van den Berg (full name) was an early adopter of the mi.mu gloves, a wearable interface that’s the latest generation of a tradition of interfaces that dates back to Amsterdam’s own STEIM research center and pioneering work by Michel Waisvisz. (Even if you have no interest in glove-based interfaces, Waisvisz can arguably be credited for producing the model of human/computer musical interaction as we now know it – it’s worth understanding.)

And Chagall herself is emblematic of the kind of brainpower-meets-virtuosic performance of that scene. mi.mu, now counting Chagall as one of its partners, is a who’s who of thinkers working in wearable technology and performance, including one other well-known icon, Imogen Heap. (We were lucky to have this crew join us for the first-ever CTM Festival Hacklab we hosted, which in turn was their first experiment in unleashing the gloves on new users.)

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Accordingly, Chagall has become a spokeperson for innovative music technology as well as a musical star, gracing stages from TED to Futurefest to Ableton’s Loop.

Okay, so – tech, check. Brainy people, check.

How’s the music?

Oh, yeah – brilliant. See this gorgeous single music video, with visuals by Eduardo Fitch.

Chagall is the new all-in-one DIY pop everything: powerhouse songwriter with earworm-making skills, vocalist with easy, relaxed power, and producer. There’s a team behind the AV show, but the songs are all her. That marks a departure from the way pop is most conventionally fabricated.

And Chagall’s involvement with the gloves therefore represents something significant. Imogen Heap had already proven she could make use of the gloves, but they were designed around her with her direct input. Chagall has taken them in new directions.

The music itself seems to naturally extend itself into the gloves, rather than the other way round. This is silky, futuristic pop with the visuals to match. (Van den Berg works both with the medium of reactive visuals and music, while singing and writing and doing generally everything else, too.)

Expect to see more of this. “Calibration,” the touring show that incorporates this tech among others, is now set to burst onto the scene. See the behind the scenes video:

And yes, while Berlin has had a lot of the fun lately with its presumptive crown as music tech capital, here’s a British-based, British-backed brain trust in action:

Eduardo Fitch – Art Direction
Adam Stark – Visuals & Software Design
Leyla Rees – Movement Direction
Natalie Rowland – Lighting Design
Rob Donnelly-Jackson – Sound Engineer
Claire Eve – Producer
Georgina Harper – Executive Producer

Making of
Brandon Wade – Director, DoP, Post
Matthew McGuinees – Camera, Post, Sound Editor
Balasz Koszta – Camera Op

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A year old, but for more detail on the gloves and how she works with the TC VoiceLive harmonizer, here’s a more intimate rehearsal video:

Yeah, it feels a bit like Imogen Heap: The Next Generation. But that’s a really good thing – a credit to Chagall and Imogen alike.

Here’s Chagall demonstrating at Ableton Loop:

Oh, the heck with it, she’s too fun to watch, here’s another video (any other singers a bit jealous?)

And dueling TED talks from Imogen and Chagall, because it’s the Internet and I don’t run out of page space:

More:

http://www.chagallmusic.com

http://mimugloves.com

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James Corden Hurls Food At Iggy Azalea On ‘The Late Late Show’


Iggy & Anitta Perform ''Switch''

Iggy Azalea and Anitta’s ‘Digital Distortion’ collaboration gets its TV debut on ‘The Tonight Show.’

After dropping off the radar for a couple of weeks, Iggy Azalea is back on the promo grind. She dropped by The Late Late Show With James Corden to perform “Switch” (unfortunately without Anitta) and then hung around to play The Flinch Game. What is that exactly? Well, guests stand behind a sheet of glass and try not to spill their martini when food is hurled at them. While fellow participants Jane Krakowski, Kate Mara and Lily James wasted precious alcohol, the rapper managed to keep most of hers in the glass.

It was nice to see Iggy looking so relaxed. “I’m shaking like I’m meeting Michael Jackson,” she quipped and joked about her butt being too big for an apron. (The Aussie hitmaker’s eye-watering curves were on full display). As for her performance, I’ll post that when the video hits YouTube. “Switch” is a great song, but it will be hard to connect with casual listeners without a proper rollout and everything about this era feels haphazard. Which is no surprise when you consider that Iggy was calling out her label on social media a couple of weeks ago.

Watch her conquer The Flinch Game up top.

So happy to be back on The Late Late Show with @j_corden!! Make sure you guys tune in tonight at 12:37/11:37c!

A post shared by Iggy Azalea (@thenewclassic) on Jun 13, 2017 at 6:05pm PDT

Do you like the snippets? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!

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Dub Machines gives you powerful delays as plug-ins; get Diffuse free

The right delay is more than a filter. It’s an intoxicant; it’s a powerful hallucinogenic trip. We’re not so much technicians when we use them as we are shamans.

Now, of course, the right way to do this theoretically has been to lug some vintage analog gear, or some specialized digital equipment. But in the recent past, the computer has gotten better at providing rich analog models and digital effects. Not a little better – a lot better.

Having a good analog model also opens up something else. We’re starting to see effects and production that combines analog effects (like tape delays) with digital effects (like diffusion echoes). And that can produce space-y sounds unlike any heard before.

Surreal Machines out of Berlin are a boutique software shop making some of the better models available right now. Dub Machines is simply excellent – a one-two punch of a Roland-style modeled tape delay (Magnetic) with a digital diffusion delay (Diffuse) that can double as a reverb. And uniquely, Magnetic applied an approach of incorporating the characteristics of real machines, including samples. This applies famously to dub music, yes, but — really all sorts of things, from trippy techno to experimental sounds.

Dub Machines is so good that the advice was simple for Ableton Live users – you’ve got to have it. Not only was that the advice from me, but people would literally stop me in the street and tell me to go get it. There’s just one problem: it’s only available for Max for Live, meaning other DAWs are left out of the fun.

Enter the new Dub Machines plug-in version. It now supports VST and Audio Unit on Mac and Windows (I’m testing on Windows at the moment), and it’s a total refresh of what was there before.

And just for CDM, in case you missed the free intro deal on Diffuse, you can get it this week for free with code: CDMDIFFUSE

(No promotional fee paid to CDM here – I just loved this thing but was late writing it up! Ha!)

Meet the two plug-ins

So they took something that was already very good, made it run in more places, and made the sound much better. That has instantly earned this a place among my other two favorite delays of the moment, the hybrid/multi-mode Replika XT from Native Instruments, and the H3000 plug-in from Eventide (not to mention using it alongside an actual Space Echo I’ve been borrowing).

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Magnetic gets reworked as Modnetic, with extra features – like a BBD-modeled modulation section, which they say is practically a plug-in on its own (I agree). And Diffuse gets a total refresh, too.

Modnetic is really several effects bundled together: tape delay, spring reverb, chorus/flanger/phaser, and analog tone modeling. So you get:

Echo/tape delay: Three virtual tape heads you can combine in different ways, with two reverse delay effects, hold for looping
Reverb:: 35 impulse responses for different spring reverbs
Modulation: Chorus, flanger, phaser, including modeled BBD (bucket brigade) models, and various analog and digital and ‘broken’ flavors.
Tone: Four selectable “characters” that give you the feeling of different machines.

About those changes:

Compared to the Ableton M4L version (Magnetic), the new VST/AU plugin Modnetic has been completely rewritten from scratch in C++ for better performance and higher quality. We’ve painstaking created brand new ‘character modes’ that affect the whole system, provided a new set of reverbs and colors (keeping the best from before) and made everything completely smooth and click free in realtime performance, not to mention plugin features like AB compare and mix lock… but the biggest change has to be… our new modulation system!

Modnetic has a fully featured and easy to use modulation section with chorus, flangers and phasers. In each type you get many modes that go from analog modeled BBD circuits to clean digital and character modes for each type.

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Diffuse by virtue of being a diffusion delay can easily morph into rich delays or reverbs and some fairly crazy special effects.

It’s an analog/digital hybrid, modeled on machines from the 70s and 80s. Now, of course, reverbs other than convolutions are generally speaking just lots of clustered delays. Here, you can use that design to morph between the two easily. It’s also meant to be modulated live – as you change between distinct and smeared delays, adjusting time and feedback controls.

Spread, damping, and compression controls let you control the output.

Get Diffuse for free

For a limited time (through tomorrow the 14th of June), you can get Diffuse for free.

Go to the Surreal Machines website, put the ‘Diffuse’ plug-in in your cart and apply it on checkout to make the price zero. The coupon code is:

CDMDIFFUSE

https://www.surrealmachines.com/

Where to start learning

Inside the presets menu, you’ll find extensive help – including some of the back story on history. They advise us thusly:

The manual is dense, we know. But there’s lots of tips and tricks and a ‘walk through’, plus details we hope you don’t need to know, but give you expert control, like how our level dials automatically have a secret life as dry/wet knobs when needed, etc.

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Making the effects

For those of you interested, there’s also an additional to story to tell behind the scenes.

Diffuse is the first commercial plug-in made using the Cycling ’74 Gen “code export” function. This powerful feature lets you graphically code DSP inside Max, then use it in your own software. Just as Pure Data’s libpd has allowed that tool to become a powerful prototyping environment for things like mobile apps and game engines, Cycling ’74 is set to transform how people work with DSP and plug-in development.

An aside on that for interested developers:

Maurizio Giri (of ‘amazingnoises.com’) actually made an iOS app using Gen code export last year. For that he used some of our Gen code from our Max ‘Package Manager’ Library, ‘smFilterPack’, a set of modern ZDF filters in Max/Gen, available through the File menu of Max 7, released about 18 months ago. Timo Rosendal will be using some of this code library of ours for an upcoming software release through ‘EboStudio’ soon, too.

And as for preparing these updates:

The whole process took about two years of research and development, lots of gear rental, two UI redesigns and a new web page …plus blood, sweat, tears and trans-European travels).

Here’s a photo gallery for you of the process:

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flanger-study

chorus-lfo

blown-capacitor

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Let us know what music you make with this!

https://www.surrealmachines.com/

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Calvin Harris Teams Up With Katy Perry, Pharrell & Big Sean On “Feels”


Katy Perry's 'Witness': Album Review

Katy Perry boldly explores club sub-genres on her banger-heavy new album.

Witness only dropped on Friday (June 9), but fans won’t have to wait too long to hear new music from Katy Perry. It seems the pop star features on an upcoming collaboration with Calvin Harris called “Feels.” The purported cover of the track, which also boasts verses from Pharrell Williams and Big Sean, surfaced online today and the Scottish DJ later shared a very brief snippet in a sampler of his new LP, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1. (You can pre-order it here). Of course, the club king famously dated Taylor Swift. Which could make this the next chapter in their ongoing beef.

As for Calvin, “Feels” could be the fourth of 10 singles he plans to release in 2017. He has already rolled out “Rollin,” which features Future and Khalid and “Heatstroke.” The latter included input from Young Thug, Pharrell and Ariana Grande. The first and most successful cut was “Slide.” That track showcased the talents of Frank Ocean and Migos, and is shaping up to be something of a sleeper hit. The blurry-eyed party jam is still climbing the Billboard Hot 100 and has racked up a whopping 238 million Spotify streams.

The rumored cover:

The official cover art for Calvin Harris’ new collaboration with Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Big Sean – #FEELS! pic.twitter.com/1J23qN3FjN

— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) June 12, 2017

Listen to a snippet at 1:35 mins:

Are you excited to hear the full collaboration? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!

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Shakira Performs “Me Enamore” & “Comme Moi” On ‘The Voice France’


Shakira Rolls Out "Me Enamoré"

Shakira launches her 11th studio LP with a new banger called “Me Enamoré.”

Shakira’s 11th LP, El Dorado, arrived without a lot of fanfare in late May, but the Colombian superstar is slowly ramping up the promotion. She seems to be focussing on Europe, which makes sense given her chart-conquering ways over there, starting with an appearance on The Voice France. The 40-year-old belted out impossibly perky lead (solo) single “Me Enamore” first. The hitmaker looked surprisingly casual in a simple red blouse and black jeans, but her performance was anything but. She shook her hips, worked the stage and got everyone on their feet.

Interestingly, “Me Enamore” has become something of a viral sensation since Coldplay frontman Chris Martin posted a video dancing along to it. The track is certainly catchy enough for a “Despacito” like crossover, if Shakira can be interested reworking it into a Spanglish version. The enduring dive returned later in the show to belt out “Comme Moi,” a multi-lingual banger with French rapper Black M and Lucie. This performance boasted a little more choreography, but lacked the sheer energy and fun of “Me Enamore.” Watch Shakira in action above and below.

Did you love her performances? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!

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East Beat: Your Guide To Asia’s Best Pop Songs Feat. G-Dragon & Cosmic Girls


East Beat: ASTRO & Hyoyeon

Your guide to the week’s best Asian pop songs featuring ASTRO and Hyoyeon.

The world of pop music moves fast, especially for those who enjoy the sounds of the East and the West. Keeping up with the Hot 100 is hard enough, let alone knowing what’s going on in Japan and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it K-Pop scene. To help you stay on top of Asia’s hottest pop music, I’ve put together East Beat — a handy guide to the best K-Pop songs of the week.

BIGBANG is arguably the biggest K-Pop group of the last decade, and their star member, G-Dragon, has Justin Timberlake levels of success as a solo artist. The 29-year-old’s latest album, Kwon Ji Yong, is mostly filled of glossy hip-hop jams, but he changes direction on lead single “Untitled 2014.” The piano-driven torch ballad recalls his bandmate Taeyang’s mega-hit “Eyes Nose Lips,” and provides a different look at a star whose talent is often overshadowed by his own commercial club bangers and bizarre fashion choices.

Rising girl group Cosmic Girls just returned with their first studio album, Happy Moment. Unfortunately, after establishing a unique sound for themselves with hits like “Secret” and “I Wish,” their lead single “Happy” is a generic electro-pop style that’s been done by countless other groups this year. This means that the album’s real gems are the B-sides, namely “Miracle,” which sounds like a disco remix of their best song “Secret.”

Newcomers Circus Crazy are a unique addition to the K-Pop scene, bridging a gap between idol boy bands and trendy K-indie. Their latest single, “Romantic Drama,” is a glittery ’80s synth-pop jam with shades of Prince. And speaking of throwbacks, three-piece girl group S.E.T channel Korea’s ‘Techno Queen’ Lee Jung-hyun on their debut single “Nalari.”

Another interesting new act on the scene is TOPSECRET, who have one of the silliest and strangest boy band tracks I’ve heard in a long time with “Mind Control.” Korean boy bands tend to be a lot safer musically than their female counterparts, so it’s cool to see some guys trying something different for once.

What are you into this week? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!

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The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Allie X & Starley


The Drop: Hey Violet & Beth Ditto

Your guide to New Music Friday featuring songs from Hey Violet and Beth Ditto.

Fridays can be overwhelming for pop fans. Every week you’re bombarded with a glut of new music, which can lead to ear candy falling through the cracks. I’m hoping to circumvent that tragic scenario with The Drop — a cheat sheet (of sorts) to get you through New Music Friday. By now, you’ve probably heard David Guetta and Justin Bieber’s iTunes-conquering “2U” and possibly checked out Miley Cyrus’ country-tinged ballad, “Inspired.” But that’s just the tip of the pop iceberg.

Today also marked the arrival of Katy Perry’s Witness and Allie X’s Collxtion II. The divas come at synth-pop from very different angles, but they share a willingness to experiment and knack for (borderline) invasive pop melodies. My favorite song on KP4 changes every five minutes, but “Roulette” is always in the mix. Katy revisits the ’90s on this gem, channelling euro-dance acts like La Bouche and Snap!. As for Allie X’s opus, I’m currently leaning toward “Vintage.” It serves ’80s Madonna with a very modern twist.

Next up are a couple of bangers that, by complete coincidence, sample the same ’90s classic. Australia’s Starley landed a global hit last year when “Call On Me” was remixed Ryan Riback and went nuclear on Spotify. She returns with another club-friendly bop called “Touch Me,” which cleverly interpolates Groove Theory’s “Tell Me.” That song also forms the basis of AXSHN’s new single. The production collective teams up with Sofia Reyes for a silky smooth update that is guaranteed to make you move.

Looking for something a little calmer? London newcomer Minke follows up viral hit “Gold Angel” with “Amour.” I’ve seen blogs describe the rising star as alt-R&B, but this sounds more chillwave to me. It’s soft, dreamy and tugs at the heartstrings. The same goes for Bien’s latest. “Dreamy” is an overused adjective for describing music, but it fits the Nashville trio’s lilting “Spinning On Blue” perfectly. This is a warm caress of a song with a melancholy underbelly.

How about a little R&B? Jhene Aiko forgoes the minimal beats and fake-deep musings of debut LP Souled Out (no shade) in favor of a vast, loose soundscape on “While We’re Young,” a mellow grower that seeps into your consciousness more with each listen. If Alicia Keys circa As I Am ate an edible, it would sound a little something like this. More traditional is Jessica Mauboy’s “Fallin’.” The Aussie pop star has bounced between more genres than I can remember (pop, dance, drum & bass and vintage soul), but R&B seems to deliver the best results and this is her best single since “Never Be The Same.”

The ladies don’t have it all their way this week. Andy Grammer raised a few eyebrows by sprinkling synths on to 2016 smash “Fresh Eyes,” but he veers even closer to top 40 pop with “Give Love” — a rhythmic track with a catchy chorus and cameo from LunchMoney Lewis. It’s very Maroon 5, which is obviously a good thing. BANNERS, on the other hand, stays true to his signature sound on “Someone To You.” The Brit picks up where he left off on his debut EP, delivering the kind of soaring anthem that’s the sync away from chart glory.

Let’s wind things up with a couple of mood-lifting bops. (It’s been a long week!) The Aces are no strangers to The Drop, previously appearing with the retro synth-rock anthems like “Physical” and “Baby Who.” They make it three from three with “Touch,” a pop/rock delight a massive chorus and shimmery production. Smallpools aren’t strangers to perky pop/rock anthems (“Karaoke” is my favorite) and “Million Bucks” is one of the LA band’s finest. Listen to it in my playlist below.

What are you into this week? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!

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